Home Office perm sec Mark Sedwill on 2015 and tackling "fast-evolving threats" with a "significantly reduced" budget

Written by Civil Service World on 21 December 2015 in Interview

With the end of 2015 in sight, we asked Whitehall's top officials to review the year, set out their priorities for 2016 – and shed some light on their festive plans. Mark Sedwill, permanent secretary of the Home Office, takes part in our biggest-ever perm secs' round-up series...

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2015?
The events of the past few months show the sheer scale of the challenges facing the Home Office. The summer and autumn were dominated by the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, while the appalling terrorist attacks in Egypt, Lebanon and France demonstrate the enduring threat from terrorism. As well as ensuring the UK’s borders are secure and tackling terrorism and extremism at home and abroad, the Home Office is driving reform in policing and the way it is funded. We’re also beginning our own radical transformation programme, to ensure the department can adapt to a significantly reduced budget, fast-evolving threats and new technology.
As ever, I approach these challenges by ensuring I have a strong and accomplished leadership team around me, empowering them to make decisions, offering guidance and intervening when needed. This leaves me time to focus on the key strategic questions facing the Home Office and the 250,000 people for whom we are responsible, working in borders and immigration, homeland security and law enforcement. 
What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?
In the year ahead, we will continue to deliver on the home secretary’s priorities: preventing terrorism, cutting crime, protecting the vulnerable, controlling immigration and promoting growth. The threats and challenges evolve fast: we must transform to stay on top of them.  

What film do you hope to watch over the festive period – and what’s the best game to play with your family on Christmas day? 
I’ve no idea which films are on, but I will go to the local pantomime with friends, kids and grandparents. 

Perm secs round-up 2015: Whitehall's top civil servants review the year – and look ahead to 2016

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Elizabeth S

Submitted on 9 February, 2016 - 11:42
I think the refugee crisis can be effectively tackled if the European countries took a minute to think of it is a world crisis instead of just their responsibility. If they can put up a proposal to the developing countries around the world with funding available for taking refugees in Calais and Germany , the problem of dealing with refugees from conservative backgrounds assaulting liberal western women and causing havoc in the developed nation's civilian society could be reduced , as well as help these refugees to better integrate into a culture similar to their own. Countries in Africa like Nigeria, Asia like India , Malaysia and Sri lanka and South America like Brazil stc will happily accept these refugees from European soil if they are given a few million or billion funding. This could also make sure that refugees don't try to travel to Europe in perilous illegal journeys and demotivate them from taking it in the first place if they know they have a safe haven elsewhere. A lot of these refugees are skilled workers who can be put in work in these developing nations.

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